Drug abuse, alcoholism and the usage of intoxicants is on increase not only among youth but in elderly also. Elderly living in assisted living residences are no exception and it is no exaggerated fact that they are even more inclined to substance abuse than the rest of the lot. As per the findings of The New York Times, as much as 70% of assisted living residents are prone to drinking alcohol, which is alarming.
Abuse of everything is bad, let alone an intoxicant or an addictive. Same rings true with alcohol abuse that has a host of problems associated with it. It is observed that elderly people do not start depending more on alcohol, in fact, the adverse effects of alcoholism seem more apparent because of decline in the ability to tolerate alcohol. Not only that, alcohol abuse in elderly people may lead to hypertension, depression, the decline in immunity, and a sudden rise in falls and accidents. There is no denying a fact that physical injuries take longer to heal in elderly people and demand more care and physical efforts by the attendants.
Moreover, elderly people are on medication more often than not, so the risk of alcohol interaction with other chemicals is higher in them. Alcohol and drug interaction may prove fatal in some instances depending on the severity of the situation. To deal with such scenarios is the hardest battle for the senior living assisted care facilitators.
It is argued by some people that denying elderly the opportunity to have a drink is immoral since one should not deny a person a right to pleasure. On the contrary, it is argued that one must put a ban on drinking for the larger good and in the greater interest of elderly. After all, what is more, important to a person’s wellbeing: short-lived pleasure or ongoing health?
Considerations for Assisted Living Facilitators:
First and foremost duty of the assisted living facility provider is to make sure the safety of his residents. Before showing green flag to alcoholism and other substance abuse, he must keep the following points into consideration:
- Alcohol tends to affect the elderly brain a whole lot differently. The amount of intoxication is more pronounced and enhanced in older people.
- Elder people are mostly on medication or undergoing some kind or treatment. The side effects of some medicines, when interacted with alcohol, are so adverse that they may result in the death of the younger patient let alone an elderly with the ever-declining immunity level.
- Older people are not necessarily bedridden, a sudden fall is constantly threatened because of alcohol intoxication which may result in painful physical injuries or the breakage of bones. It is no hidden fact that older people take longer to heal and fully recover. Recovery is not always guaranteed because of the underlying age factor.
- Seniors with Dementia or memory impairment may react to alcohol adversely. They may become confused and disoriented and their symptoms get more pronounced and enhanced which may become really problematic for the assisted living facility provider.
In the light of above-mentioned points, it is highly advised that assisted living facility provider should completely prohibit the usage of alcohol
In cultures where drinking is deeply rooted, shunning drinking away altogether is a heck of a task. Not only that, there are residents who tend to buy themselves alcohol from the outside if it is not served by the assisted living service providers. Moreover, some residents get alcohol and other drugs as a gift in which case, a strict policy prohibiting alcoholism won’t be that effective and may give birth to a rift between the residents and the assisted living care facilitator that would lead to further complications.
So, it is advised that assisted living care facilitator should arrange a supervised social gathering once in a while where controlled amount of alcohol is served to the seniors. Drinking in a social setting and controlled environment make sure that none of the residents abuses alcohol. By opting for happy hour at adequate intervals, the assisted living facilitator shows concern for his residents and make them feel valued and not isolated.